India’s Union Minister for Communications and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad, has recently announced the launch of National Centre of Geo-Informatics. It will be one of its kind GIS platform for sharing and collaborating GIS data source and location-based analytics that will aid central and state governments in planning, decision-making and electronic delivery of services. http:// articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/
US$1.5b by WB for India’s Universal Sanitation Initiatives
The World Bank has approved a US$1.5 billion loan for the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Support Operation Project to support the Government of India in its efforts to ensure all citizens in rural areas have access to improved sanitation – such as a toilet or latrine with a focus on changing behaviors – in ending the practice of open defecation by 2019.
Specifically, this project will support the rural component, known as SBM – Gramin (SBM-G), over a five-year period using a new performance-based program which links funds directly to results, ensuring that benefits are delivered to the people in need – more than 60 percent of India’s rural population.
The SBM-G program focuses on ensuring usage of toilets along with their construction. States and their implementing agencies will be given incentives for meeting performance standards. Performance will be measured against the states’ ability to reduce open defecation, sustaining their open defecation free (ODF) status and improving solid and liquid waste management in rural areas. The financing mechanism promotes the leadership of the states, which will have flexibility in innovating and adopting their own delivery models. www.worldbank.org
India to track illegal mining with satellites
The government has finalised its plans to track illegal mining in the country using space technology and satellite imagery in partnership with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This entails states to utilise remote sensing technology to take satellite images of their mines and update them on a regular basis every 15-30 days that will help authorities in ascertaining the extent of mining operations and check illegal extraction of minerals. http:// articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com
UN and Singapore agree to develop information management tool for peacekeeping operations
The United Nations and the Government of Singapore have signed a MOU to collaborate on the development of an information management tool in support of UN peacekeeping operations that can aid in enhancing situational awareness, trend analysis and early warning capacities in field missions. Under the MOU, Singapore will partner with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Department of Field Support to co-develop an information management tool that will add GIS capabilities to existing situational awareness tools. http://www.un.org
In rules released recently, China’s State Council announced that all digital maps provided in China be stored on servers within its borders. The rules will also lay out certification standards for digital mapping providers. According to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, the purpose of the new regulations is to “boost development of the geographic information industry” and safeguard “national sovereignty and geographic information security.”
The rules seem much heavier on tightening control than on boosting development. In addition to the server location requirements, map providers are prohibited both from displaying or even storing any data deemed to be prohibited by the government. Government officials will be able to regularly inspect data for “errors and leaks of information that threaten national sovereignty,” according to Xinhua.
The move is arguably redundant— China has long held mapping services to strict content standards, and blocks those that don’t comply.
This includes Google Maps, which has been officially blocked for users in China since 2010, when Google refused to submit to Chinese government censorship. Google has since made moderate concessions in its representation of Chinese borders on maps accessed from outside of the country, changing the names of disputed regions. There has been frequent speculation about when (or if) Google Maps will return in China. The current rule change would seem to make that harder, particularly since it includes a system of fines and penalties— and even potential criminal prosecution— for violations. http://fortune.com
Road Mapping Through Satellites in India
Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) has developed several technologies/procedures/ methods for construction and maintenance of Indian roads such as cold mix & warm mix technologies for bituminous roads, use of waste plastic, design & specifications for construction and maintenance of roads & bridges, procedures for road safety measures, etc. National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has initiated steps for use of space technology for preparation of detailed project reports, monitoring of construction and road asset management. NHAI proposes signing MOU with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) & North East Centre for Technology Application and Research (NECTAR) for use of space technology in aforesaid areas. www.business-standard.com
Bluesky Partners with FATMAP to Create Interactive 3D Ski Maps
Aerial mapping company Bluesky is working with FATMAP to create ultrahigh resolution 3D mobile maps of the world’s major ski resorts and other popular outdoor pursuit destinations. It recently completed a pilot project for FATMAP, capturing aerial photography and generating detailed height models in order to crete a highly detailed 3D map of the Big Sky Ski Resort in Montana, USA. www.bluesky-world.com